Water Institute Spotlight February 22, 2021

In commemoration of Black History Month throughout February we will celebrate and highlight the scholarly achievements and contributions of UF Water Institute affiliated Black faculty and students working to understand and solve interdisciplinary water issues.

Taisha Venort, PhD Student

Taisha Venort is a second year PhD student in the Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering (ABE) at UF. She obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degree from Purdue University in Environmental & Ecological Engineering and ABE/Ecological Sciences & Engineering Interdisciplinary Program, respectively. Taisha is a US Borlaug Fellow in Global Food Security and her research focuses on identifying water and food security solutions in vulnerable ecosystems of Sub-Saharan Africa. Her doctoral studies at UF are jointly supported by ABE and the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship through the Office of Graduate Diversity Initiatives. Her long-term goal as a researcher is to advance research in global water and food security through innovative and effective international collaborations. When Taisha is not working on her research or professional development, she is usually either working out or cooking. She has been enjoying outdoorsy activities while living in Florida and during the pandemic.

I think celebrating Black History month is an important legacy for America and for the world. Also, celebration options are multiplying and improving. I now listen to black history-based playlists and podcasts. It helps with building a stronger sense of identity, diversity, and community in our daily lives.

We are more convinced these days that diversity is rather enriching for communities. In my capacity as a scholar, I try my best to pay it forward to peers whom I have walked in their shoes. In addition, I currently serve as a member of the Diversity, Inclusion & Equity at UF ABE. – Taisha Venort

Dr. Haimanote Bayabil, Assistant Professor

Dr. Haimanote Bayabil is an Assistant Professor of Water Resources in the UF/IFAS Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering who conducts research and extension at the Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead. His research and extension program focuses on developing practical and sustainable water management practices that conserve water and improve water quality in agricultural and urban areas. With agriculture being the largest consumer of freshwater, Dr. Bayabil specializes in improving agricultural water productivity, while at the same time enhancing crop productivity, water quality, and ecosystem services. Last year he received two USDA NIFA grants to assess the impacts of saltwater intrusion in agricultural areas and to develop a method to estimate field level evapotranspiration rates and crop water stress levels. He also received the 2020 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers Florida Section Outstanding Young Researcher Award.

Fikadu Getachew, PhD Student

Fikadu Getachew is a PhD student in the Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering at UF and is an agro-meteorologist with more than 7 years of research experience on climate change and crop simulation modeling. His research interest is in detecting a proxy of drought indices from surface and satellite observations using crop simulation modeling approaches. His current research investigates the effects of supplemental irrigation and shifting planting dates to mitigate climate change impacts on sorghum production. Fikadu was an Alexander von Humboldt International Climate Change Protection Fellow at the Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research and participated in the Young Scientist Support Program of the 2012 Fellowship. His future goals are to finish his PhD and then support his country, Ethiopia, by developing innovative actions to adapt to and mitigate climate change.

February 22, 2021